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Checking Out the eBay Listing Page

All item pages on eBay — whether auctions, fixed-price items, or Buy It Now items — look about the same. If you were viewing this auction page on the screen, you could scroll down and see a complete description of the item, along with shipping information.

Here's a list of stuff you see as scroll down a typical auction item page:

  • Item category: Located just above the item title and number bar, you can click the category listing and do some comparison shopping.
  • Item title and number: The title and number identify the item. Keep track of this info for inquiries later. Some sellers also use a subtitle to pass on more information about their items.
  • Watch this item: Click this link, and the item is magically added to the Watching area of your My eBay All Buying page so you can keep an eye on the progress of the auction — without actually bidding. If you haven't signed in, you have to type your user ID and password before you can save the auction to your My eBay page.
  • Starting bid or Current bid: This is the dollar amount that the bidding has reached. The amount changes throughout the auction as people place bids. If no bids have been placed on the item, it will read Starting bid.
    Sometimes, next to the current dollar amount, you see Reserve not met or Reserve met. This means the seller has set a reserve price for the item — a secret price that must be reached before the seller will sell the item. Most auctions do not have reserve prices.
  • Time left: Although the clock never stops ticking on eBay, you must continue to refresh your browser to see the time remaining on the official clock. When the item gets down to the last hour of the auction, you'll see the time expressed in minutes and seconds.
    Timing is the key in an eBay bidding strategy, so don't forget that eBay uses Pacific standard time (PST) or Pacific daylight time (PDT) as the standard, depending on the season.
  • Start time: The time that the seller began the sale on eBay.
  • History: This field tells you how many bids have been placed. The starting bid is listed in light gray next to the number of bids. When the listing is live, you can click the number of bids to find out who is bidding and when bids were placed. (In some circumstances, only the seller and buyer can access this data.)
  • High bidder: This field shows you the user ID and feedback rating of the current high bidder. It could be you if you've placed a bid!
    Sometimes an item has no bids because everyone is waiting until the last minute. Then you see a flurry of activity as bidders try to outbid each other. It's all part of the fun of eBay.
  • Buy It Now price: If you want an item immediately and the price listed in this area is okay with you, click Buy It Now. You will be taken to a page where you can complete your purchase. Buy It Now is an option and does not appear in all listings.
  • Quantity: This field appears only when multiple items are available.
  • Item location: This field tells you at the very least the country where the seller is located. You may also see more specific info, such as the seller's city and geographic area.
  • Ships to: If the seller ships to only the United States, it will state so here. If the seller ships to any other countries, this is where they will be listed.
  • Shipping costs: If the seller is willing to ship the item anywhere in the country for a flat rate, you'll see it here. This area may also link to eBay's shipping calculator if the seller customizes the shipping expense based on weight and distance.
  • Seller Information box: This area, on the right side of the page, gives you information about the seller. Know thy seller ranks right after caveat emptor as a phrase that pays at eBay. Like any community, eBay has its share of good folks and bad folks. Your best defense is to read the seller's feedback. You'll see several things in the Seller Information box:

Seller icons: Various icons that show the status of the seller. A varied color star reflects the feedback level of the seller. If the seller is a PowerSeller, you see the PowerSeller icon. If the seller has an About Me page, you see the blue and red me icon.

Feedback score: This number is also to the right of the seller's name in parentheses. Click the number next to the seller's ID to view his or her eBay ID card and entire feedback history. Read, read, and reread all the feedback to make sure you feel comfortable doing business with this person.

Positive feedback percentage: The eBay computers calculate this figure. It's derived from all the positive and negative feedback that a user receives.

Member since: This line lists the date the seller joined eBay and the country in which he or she registered.

Read feedback comments: This link does the same thing as clicking the feedback score.

Add to Favorite Sellers: Clicking here adds the seller to your My eBay Favorite Sellers links.

Ask seller a question: Clicking this link hooks you up with eBay's e-mail system so you can ask the seller a question regarding the item.

View seller's other items: This link takes you to a page that lists all the seller's current auctions and fixed-price sales.

Visit this seller's eBay store: If the seller has an eBay store, a link to it appears here as well.

PayPal: If the seller accepts PayPal, the PayPal logo appears here. Also, if the seller qualifies for buyer protection, this is also indicated here.

Financing available: If an item is selling for more than $200, and the seller has approved it, the buyer may finance the purchase through PayPal.

  • Description bar: Below this light-blue shaded bar is the item description. There may also be a colorful header with links to the seller's eBay store. Also, if the seller participates with SquareTrade or is bonded through BuySAFE, those company's seals will appear in the item description area. Read all this information carefully before bidding.

Below the seller's description area, you'll find some other important data on the typical auction item page:

  • Shipping and payment details: Check here to see the details on shipping. You see

• Whether the seller is charging flat shipping or is offering more than one shipping option through a shipping calculator.

• Who pays (usually the buyer).

• Whether insurance is offered.

• Which states have to pay sales tax (if any) and the sales tax rate.

• Whether the seller is willing to ship to your area. (Sometimes sellers won't ship internationally, and they'll let you know here.)

    Be sure to also check the item description for other shipping information and terms.
  • Payment methods accepted: This field tells you the payment methods that the seller accepts — checks, money orders, credit cards, or PayPal. Often, it tells you to read the item description for more details.
  • Item-related links: From here you can e-mail the item to tip off a friend on a good find, get some advice from an antiques or collecting expert, or run the auction by someone who's been around the eBay block a few times and ask for strategy advice. You also have a link to a printer-friendly version of the page and an additional link to ask the seller a question.

Be sure to use the Watch This Item feature when shopping around. Organization is the name of the game on eBay, especially if you plan to bid on multiple auctions while you're running auctions of your own.

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